NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Funder Spotlight: US Department of Defense

Slides: Funder Spotlight: US Department of Defense

Presenter:

  • Valerie Browning, DARPA, Director of Defense Sciences Office

Thanks to our session scribe, Summer Young, Missouri University of Science and Technology!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • DARPA’s uniqueness among DOD funding agencies and other agencies in general should not be an obstacle to working with DARPA (goal of session was to demystify and educate).DoD-Logo
  • How and why DARPA created: February 1959 just after Sputnik launch – sense of urgency that US had fallen behind – to make sure US was never surprised by the technological innovation of an adversary again.
  • DARPA charter is to invest in pivotal breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security.
  • DARPA mission priority spaces include defending the homeland (cyber deterrence, countering hypersonics, bio threat detection and mitigation, defense against weapons of mass destruction), deterring & defending against high-end adversaries (adaptive lethality for air, land, and sea; long-range effects, control of the spectrum, robust space), and effectively executing stabilization efforts (warrior performance, countering grayzone warfare, 3D city-scale operations, behavior modeling and influence).
  • DSO has developed a framework for prioritizing funding strategy (turning future challenges into opportunities) among four trends: globalization and proliferation of technology (need for greater agility, speed in innovation), increasing pace of conflict (need to act and react at speeds faster than human brain can work), increasing use of measured escalation (gray zone) tactics (need tools for quickly addressing these kind of threats), and ensuring best technologies for detecting and preventing weapons of mass destruction.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

One of DARPA DSO’s current outward-facing thrusts (for engaging with public R&D) relates to complex social systems and includes diverse funding opportunities for social sciences researchers.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s) response?

One of our NORDP colleagues asked about challenges her smaller research university has in meeting DARPA security requirements. The presenter acknowledged that this was an issue DARPA is aware of and has discussed at university engagement roundtables.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Ways to engage with DARPA:

  • BAAs (can be alerted through Constant Contact)
  • Proposers Day for larger programs (DSO does 6-7 per year)
  • DARPA Young Faculty Award
  • Disruptioneering & other rapid acquisition efforts
    • pioneered by DSO in last few years
    • new way of doing R&D acquisition
    • topics released ~monthly throughout year
      • quick turnaround to award
      • abridged proposal
      • streamlined cost proposal
      • 18 month, two phase efforts